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ANALYSIS: Removal-based credits, governance body proving contentious in offset taskforce consultation
Plans from the private sector-led Taskforce on Scaling Voluntary Carbon Markets (TSVCM) to distinguish between voluntary emissions reductions (VERs) that avoid or remove GHGs are emerging as a key sticking point in an ongoing consultation, as some worry about potential overstep with existing crediting standards or conflicts of interest that may arise through the creation of a governance body.
The European Parliament on Thursday gave its approval to a compromise on the European Climate Law, underpinning the bloc’s net zero objective by 2050 and creating a framework for all future environmental legislation.
EUAs broke above €55 to extend their five-week high on Thursday, boosted by surging energy prices and supported following reports that EU officials were poised to propose multiple ETS reforms.
The expected expansion of the EU’s carbon market to include shipping emissions will have little impact on the maritime sector’s fuel mix, the European Commission said in a leaked document of a proposal targeting an increased uptake of sustainable fuels.
The Netherlands on Thursday published a provisional list of installations receiving free EU carbon allowances for 2021-25, adding that it expects to disburse this year’s units some time in August.Two Australian companies have joined forces to set up a new company that will offer nature-based carbon advisory and project development services, targeting Asian, African, and Latin American markets.
US-listed carbon ETF sees resilient investor inflows despite price drop, as UK ETS eyed for inclusion
The world’s largest carbon trading ETF saw little in investor outflows last month as allowance prices in key markets dropped, the fund manager’s MD said Thursday, adding that the nascent UK ETS could be up for inclusion in the surging investment vehicle later this year.
More than half of funding to preserve and enhance forests has come in the three years up to 2020 with disbursals expected to accelerate in future as climate ambition increases, a report found on Thursday.
The US Senate on Thursday overwhelmingly approved legislation to address obstacles for rural stakeholders to voluntarily participate in carbon offset markets, sending the bill on for consideration in the House of Representatives.
California Carbon Allowance (CCA) prices steamrolled to a new all-time high over the week amid steady speculative demand, as RGGI Allowances (RGAs) declined slightly on the secondary market despite new compliance demand appearing.
Carbon market to play smaller role in California’s long-term climate strategy with additional polices, official says
California’s cap-and-trade programme will play a smaller role in reaching long-term climate goals as new environmental programmes are slated to drive additional reductions in the coming years, an ARB official said Thursday afternoon.
Intermediaries increased their ACCU holdings by 50% over Q1 as Australia’s offset market saw record activity, according to regulator data released Thursday, while a separate report showed Australian investors are increasingly casting their eyes on projects elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific.
Two Australian companies have joined forces to set up a new company that will offer nature-based carbon advisory and project development services, targeting Asian, African, and Latin American markets.
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings committed on Wednesday to purchase 3 million verified emissions reductions (VERs) over the next three years as part of its new voluntary offset programme, with an aim of ramping up this procurement in subsequent years.
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BITE-SIZED UPDATES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
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Jab optional – Britain will not require delegates attending November’s in-person COP25 climate conference in Glasgow to have been vaccinated against COVID-19, an official responsible for organising the event said Wednesday. Britain will strongly recommend that delegates are vaccinated but it will not be a mandatory requirement, Rosalyn Eales, Chief Operating Officer of the COP26 conference, told lawmakers. Climate and health experts have said poorer nations struggling to access vaccines could find sending delegates to an in-person meeting difficult. (Reuters)
Cheapest under the sun – It is now cheaper to build and operate new utility-scale solar photovoltaic farms in much of the world than it is to maintain existing coal-fired power stations, new research by BloombergNEF finds. It’s already well established that the plummeting cost of solar PV and wind means that when a coal plant reach the end of its life, it makes no financial sense to build a new one – even before you consider climate change and carbon pricing. But the BNEF report suggests this dynamic has moved to a new plain, and could potentially prompt coal plants in India, China and much of Europe to be shutdown early. (Renew Economy)
Separate song and dance – White House negotiators and a group of senators struck a deal on a bipartisan infrastructure agreement on Thursday that will likely slash measures to combat climate change and help the US transition to a clean energy economy. The narrow infrastructure deal would leave President Joe Biden’s proposals on climate change to a separate bill that Democrats could attempt to pass through Congress using reconciliation, a process that doesn’t require Republican support. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said during a press briefing on Thursday morning that the lower chamber would not take up the bipartisan infrastructure bill unless a reconciliation bill advancing Democratic priorities is also passed through the Senate. (CNBC)
Face the music – A Massachusetts state judge has rejected Exxon Mobil’s bid to dismiss a lawsuit by state Attorney General Maura Healey accusing the oil company of misleading consumers and investors about its role in climate change. In a decision released Wednesday, Superior Court Justice Karen Green in Boston said the oil major failed to show that the Oct. 2019 lawsuit was meant to silence its views on climate change, including those Healey and her constituents might dispute. Exxon said it was considering its next legal steps. “This case lacks merit, and we look forward to defending the company,” a company spokesperson said. (Reuters)
Tough reductions – A report released from Canada’s Parliamentary Budget Officer on Wednesday says the speed at which change needs to happen for how people drive and heat buildings will make it tough for the Liberal government to achieve its latest climate goal. PM Justin Trudeau promised in April that Canada would slash GHG emissions 40-45% below 2005 levels by 2030. The Liberal government says existing measures like its carbon pricing regime put Canada on track to cut emissions 36% by 2030 – and has yet to detail how it will close the remaining gap. The PBO studied the government’s higher targets and says while the technology exists to reduce these emissions, “the scale and speed of the changes will make it challenging to achieve.” Additionally, the PBO report says Trudeau’s plan to increase the carbon price to C$170 per tonne by 2030, combined with other climate polices, will negatively impact real GDP by 1.4%. (Canadian Press)
Crypto carbon – Cryptocurency exchange Gemini bought $4 mln in carbon permits and pledged to continue to purchase more until bitcoin runs fully on renewable power, according to Bloomberg. Gemini bought the 341,000 permits from Climate Vault, a University of Chicago-based non-profit that buys allowances from North American cap-and-trade systems. The move comes after China’s crackdown on bitcoin mining and trading within its territory caused the currency to lose all of its 2021 gains this week, briefly falling below $30,000 on Tuesday. (Markets Insider, Yahoo! Finance)
The roaring 20 – New Jersey-based energy company PSEG on Thursday announced it has moved its net zero emissions goal forward 20 years to 2030. PSEG said it will meet its net zero ambitions by launching a three-pronged 2030 climate vision that extends across its business: net zero emissions for PSEG operations, including its electric and gas utilities; 100% carbon-free power generation; and significant contributions to regional economy-wide decarbonisation. For any residual emissions, PSEG said will explore high-quality carbon offsets. (ROI-NJ)
Underconsumed – Michigan-based Consumers Energy on Wednesday announced a plan to end its use of coal generation by 2025, 15 years ahead of the utility’s current schedule. The utility is also shuttering peaker units burning gas and fuel oil, with the coal-fired units combine for over 1.4 GW. By 2040, Consumers plans to meet 90% of demand with clean energy resources. The final 10% would be natural gas, generated in part by existing plants the utility is now proposing to purchase. (Utility Dive)
Leaky pipes – Methane is spewing out of gas infrastructure across the EU because of leaks and venting, video footage made available to Reuters shows. Using a €100,000 ($119,000) infrared camera, non-profit Clean Air Task Force (CATF) found methane seeping into the atmosphere at 123 oil and gas sites in Austria, Czechia, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland, and Romania this year. Currently, the EU does not regulate methane emissions in the energy sector, meaning companies running the sites surveyed by CATF are not breaking laws because of leaks or venting. The EU is proposing laws this year that will force oil and gas companies to monitor and report methane emissions, as well as improve the detection and repair of leaks.
Not walking the talk – The UK government has not yet backed up its long-term climate target of net-zero by 2050, often described as “world-leading” by ministers, with realistic and ambitious delivery plans, the country’s Climate Change Committee (CCC) has warned. In its latest progress report to Parliament on reducing emissions, published today, the CCC states that the government is failing to support “important statements of ambition” on decarbonisation with “firm policies”. In other words, despite the introduction of a legally binding net zero target in 2019 and subsequent short-term funding pots like the £12bn provided in the Ten Point Plan, most high-emitting sectors are still unprepared to decarbonise at the scale and pace needed. The CCC has also pointed to “high-carbon blunders” in policymaking such as failure to block a new coal mine in Cumbria, voicing support for lowering green taxes on flights, and closing the Green Homes Grant with less than 10% of the £2 bln originally promised issued. The recent cut to overseas aid spending is additionally said to be “undermining” domestic green finance commitments. The CCC acknowledges that COVID has delayed progress on a host of new green policy packages but states that these must now all be published before COP26 this November. It warns that uncertainty over policy supports in the long-term, and even this decade, is leaving businesses, investors, local authorities and others from delivering their own climate commitments. (edie)
Emergency cash – The German federal government has passed a climate emergency programme allocating an additional €8.1 bln for climate protection measures over the next five years. The government aims to spend €4.5 bln on energy-efficient buildings, and more than €650 mln will go to the decarbonisation of industry as part of a plan that will also include Carbon Contracts for Difference (CCfD). But the programme has left out several measures, critics say, such as last-minute failure to partially relieve tenants of the increased national carbon price on heating. Separately, Germany’s Bundestag today passed reforms to the country’s Climate Protection Act, which move the national climate neutrality goal up five years to 2045 and raise the 2030 target to 65% below 1990 levels from 55% following a court decision earlier this year. Germany’s Bundesrat will vote on the measure on Friday. (Clean Energy Wire)
Gift of the Gabon – Gabon is working with the African Conservation Development Group and advisors Pollination to pitch about 3% of the country’s heavily forested territory as a green investment financed partly by bespoke biodiversity offsets. A third of this land is to be enabled to earn forest protection offsets, a third for sustainable logging, with the rest containing a cattle ranch that will include wildlife conservation and tourism, a sugar plantation, and a port. (Bloomberg)
Vale Chloe Munro – One of the major presences in the energy and carbon space in Australia over the past couple of decades died Tuesday following a battle with cancer. Chloe Munro held a number of key positions over the years, maybe best noted for her role as the Clean Energy Regulator’s first chair, heading up the agency over a five-year period during which Australia launched and dismantled a price on carbon, and put in place a carbon offset scheme and renewable energy credit market. Most recently, she was a non-executive director with GreenCollar Group, a major offset developer. Footprint News has published a tribute to Ms Munro here.
Fight the power – UNESCO earlier this week put Australia’s Great Barrier Reef on the list of World Heritage sites in danger due to climate change, after a number of major reef bleaching episodes in recent years, citing amongst other things Australia’s lack in progress with reducing GHG emissions. Australia says it was “blindsided” by the decision, and has sent a letter to UNESCO – co-signed by 11 other nations, including Canada, Indonesia, Spain, and the UK – protesting the decision. Some media in Australia has speculated China is behind the move, reports the Guardian, although China has rejected those accusations.
Zero to hero – A new exchange-traded fund is listing in London and will be the first in Europe to offset any carbon emissions from the index it is tracking. The HANetf S&P Global Clean Energy Select HANzero UCITS ETF (Ticker: ZERO) is being launched by HANetf and Purpose Investments and will track the S&P Global Clean Energy Select index, which measures the performance of 30 of the largest companies in global clean energy related businesses. On top of this, the ETF will incorporate offsetting so that any carbon emissions linked to the underlying securities will be compensated by buying credits from certificated projects selected by a Zurich-based South Pole. Using the monthly ‘carbon to value invested’ data for the index published by S&P DJI, HANetf said it will calculate a daily accrual, which will then be offset. (Proactive Investors)
Hello halo – The Climate Action Reserve (CAR) Board of Directors this week adopted the Mexico Halocarbon Protocol Version 1.0. The protocol establishes guidance to quantify, report, and verify GHG reductions associated with the destruction of halocarbons sourced from Mexico and destroyed at facilities in the country. The protocol is an adaptation of the offset registry’s Mexico ODS Protocol Version 1.0, and it covers non-ozone depleting refrigerants. Halocarbons are GHGs that are used in refrigerants, foam blowing agents, solvents, and fire suppressants.
So long, Salles – Brazilian environment minister Ricardo Salles has quit months after he was accused of colluding with illegal Amazon rainforest loggers. In April, the top federal police officer in the Amazonas region of Brazil accused Salles of having formed “a partnership” with the timber sector “in an attempt to obstruct the investigation of environmental crimes”. The next month, the Brazilian Supreme Court ordered police to investigate Salles. They searched Salles’ bank and tax records and discovered “suspicious transactions” including an “extremely atypical movement” of R$14 mln ($2.6 mln) involving Salles’ law firm, according to national media reports. Salles refused to hand over his mobile phone to police, in defiance of a court order, but resigned Wednesday as Brazilian magazine Veja reported the Supreme Court was about to release a “bombshell” in its investigation, and Salles may have been required to send his mobile phone to US authorities to unlock its password. The organisation Salles is accused of colluding with smuggled illegal timber to the US. (Climate Home)
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